In an effort led by Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro (CT) and Louise Slaughter (NY), a bi-partisan group of 60 Congressmembers signed a powerfully-worded letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack urging the federal agency to delay the potential expansion of HIMP, a dangerous reduced-inspection, high-speed pig slaughter pilot program.
The USDA previously stated its decision would come out this month. The letter cites concerns that “these new rules are being pushed by the industry to increase profits at the expense of public health.”
HIMP facilities are permitted to operate with fewer government-trained inspectors on site, and they’re also allowed to run slaughter lines at higher speeds than non-HIMP facilities. Even though HIMP was supposedly developed to improve the safety of America’s pork supply, as federal lawmakers note in their letter, “the available evidence suggests that hog HIMP will undermine food safety.”
The letter further highlights concerns about animal welfare: “Rapid line speeds present some of the greatest risks of inhumane treatment as workers are often pressured to take violent shortcuts to keep up.”
There are currently five US pig slaughter plants operating under HIMP, and a COK investigator recently worked inside one of them: Quality Pork Processors, a Hormel supplier. The story of COK’s investigation broke in a Washington Post exclusive this past November, exposing shockingly cruel conditions and alarming food safety concerns — and video quickly went viral as the footage garnered further national headlines as well as global media attention.
Today’s letter from federal lawmakers references our investigation, and while we turned over our footage to the USDA in October 2015, no meaningful federal action has yet been taken.
How can you help? In addition to sharing this information widely on social media, you can also sign our investigator’s Change.org petition to Hormel and the USDA demanding that the HIMP program be shut down completely.